Cuts in Dundee College and Concerns for the Effects on opportunities for Young People Leaving school

15 December 2011

At Dundee City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee on Monday evening I spoke to an item that had been placed in the Agenda at my request:

Budgetary Cuts in Further Education at Dundee College

This is what I said to the members of the Policy and Resources Committee:

" I have placed this item on the agenda because I am very concerned about the effects of current and future cuts in the budget of our further education college, Dundee College .

I think the current year cuts of £4 million and projected reductions over the next three years will amount to a reduction approaching 30% of their budget.

Cuts of that magnitude in an organisation that spends most of its cash on teaching staff can only lead to a reduction in the range of courses and programmes on offer and a reduction in the number of places available.

Dundee College is the destination of choice of many of our school leavers.

In fact progression rates of pupils moving into further education from our nine secondary schools is amongst the highest in Scotland and is to be commended.

Dundee College also provides vocational courses for some of our existing secondary school pupils alongside their school based subject choices.

Additionally, Dundee College also provides the rehearsal space for Dundee Schools' Music Theatre which has widespread community and political support.

Dundee College's valued collaboration and partnership with the Education Department is featured in the College's current Strategic Plan where they list as a significant achievement:

'Partnership with Dundee City Council Education Department at both strategic and operational levels is very well developed. Joint activity includes data sharing in order to better support transition from school to college ....'

Dundee College is also an important place to return to study or undertake an access course prior to going to University or taking an advanced course at the College.

Furthermore, Dundee College is crucial to city employers and potential new employers.

Crucially Dundee College it is also itself an important employer; in fact the 9th largest employer in the city.

Given rising levels of unemployment in our City and an expectation that too many of our young people will not be leaving school to move to a positive destination such as paid employment or a place at further education college or at University, we need Dundee College and the range and depth of what it does now.

Conversely we don't need the College distracted from its mission by a costly and lengthy merger negotiations with Angus College.

We also don't want Dundee College's vital training and educational work undermined or curtailed by swingeing cuts from the Scottish Government.

Now there is a constructive way to defend Dundee College and what it does by responding to the Scottish Government's consultation, Putting Learners at the Centre : Delivering our Ambitions for Post 16 Education which has a deadline for submissions on Friday 23rd December.

Now, Convener, if you tell me that there is not staff time to respond to my suggestion in such a short timescale, then I offer myself to provide a first draft for the Council's consideration."

I am pleased that the members of the Policy & Resources Committee agreed to ask the Director of Education to prepare a response and bring this to the already scheduled additional meeting of the Committee on Monday 19 December.


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